Digital US Equity Imperative:
Build On-Ramps to Digital Resilience

Executive Summary

To drive broad-based economic growth and unlock opportunity for all Americans, we must support digital skills development for the 32 million Americans who cannot use a computer, and the half of all Americans who are not comfortable learning online. Our inaugural report highlights the urgency—and imperative—of this work, and identifies opportunities to fill some of the most pressing gaps in access to technology and digital upskilling programs. Together, we can help individuals build the digital resilience to thrive not only in today’s world of work—but also tomorrow’s.

Digital inequity exacerbates existing disparities and constrains the US economy.

With technology transforming our workplaces and daily life, we are at a critical crossroads on our journey to build a resilient workforce and economic mobility for all Americans. Access remains a stubborn barrier to upskilling. 20 million Americans don’t have access to broadband internet. 73% of service sector workers lack skills to solve problems in digital environments, and less than 10% can access opportunities to improve their digital literacy and other foundational skills.

As leaders, we must take action immediately to create nothing less than a movement for digital skills equivalent to the universal high school of the early 20th Century.

Over the last year, the Digital US coalition has conducted a landscape scan of the biggest gaps in access to digital skills development for learner workers at risk of being left behind in our digital economy. It has also identified promising efforts to close these gaps that we need to align and support, as well as areas of need for new delivery models and innovation.

Digital US recommends building critical new onramps to digital resilience, starting with:

Infuse digital inclusion and digital skills instruction into the delivery of all education, health and safety net services or programs in which low-income Americans already participate.
Engage employers to invest in the foundational digital skills development of their more frontline workers and create effective pathways to middle skill jobs.
Make access to supports for digital inclusion radically accessible to anyone by designing and offering drop-in supports and instruction at locations that low-income Americans already frequent.
Shape federal and local policy to remove existing barriers to digital inclusion and prioritize investment in supporting digital equity.
Ensure all Americans have access to high speed internet and relevant technologies.